Data on metabolic impairments in Cushing’s syndrome and GH deficiency all suggest that the relationship between cortisol and GH/IGF-I axis in obesity may have a role in the related diseases. However, studies focusing only on one of these hormones are often controversial in paediatrics. We aimed to explore the simultaneous relationship between cortisol and IGF-I with the metabolic alterations in paediatric obesity.
Retrospective cross-sectional study in a tertiary care center. We recruited 876 (441 males and 435 females) overweight and obese children and adolescents. A complete clinical and biochemical evaluation including OGTT was performed. Cortisol and IGF-I SDS were divided in quartiles and then crossed to explore the reciprocal influence of high/high, low/low, and high/low levels of each one on the metabolic alterations of obesity.
Subjects in the higher quartiles of IGF-I-SDS and cortisol had an increased risk of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, high levels of triglycerides, and reduced HDL cholesterol. Diversely, lower IGF-I-SDS quartiles were associated with higher blood glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, and reduced insulin sensitivity levels with the rise of cortisol quartiles.
We observed that apart from glucose metabolism that is associated with low IGF-I and high cortisol levels, the other parameters known to be associated with increased cardiovascular risk were related to high levels of both IGF-I and cortisol, even if within normal range. Cortisol and IGF-I play a complex role in the comorbidities of obesity, and the evaluation of both variables could clarify some of the discordant results.